A balanced budget which will see investment for key services, including schools, has been approved.
Despite unprecedented economic conditions, the Full Council of Powys County Council has today (Thursday, February 23) approved spending plans of more than £326million for 2023-2024.
The spending plans will be financed by a combination of funding from the Welsh Government and a below inflation increase in Council Tax.
The 5% increase in Council Tax, which is split between 1.2% for the Fire Authority Levy and 3.8% for the county council, will cost the average band D Council Tax payer an extra £1.40 a week. Band D properties will now be charged £1524.45 Council Tax.
The figure does not include town and community council and police precepts which will be included when the Council Tax has final approval next month (March).
Our priority throughout the budget-setting process was to protect services, particularly those that support people at the most difficult of times. This has been achieved by working together, enabling the council to set a balanced budget
Cllr David Thomas
Cllr David Thomas, Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation, said: “A better than anticipated local government settlement has allowed the council to keep the Council Tax increase to a minimum despite unprecedent financial pressures.
“Despite the increased funding, this has been the most difficult budget-setting process the county council has ever experienced. The combination of high inflation, increased demand for social care, staff pay and funding post-Covid-19 recovery, has created an extremely difficult position.
“Our priority throughout the budget-setting process was to protect services, particularly those that support people at the most difficult of times. This has been achieved by working together, enabling the council to set a balanced budget.
“Today’s budget approval will ensure our schools receive all the additional funding provided by the settlement, resulting in an additional £5.5m in investment in education. We will also provide an extra £500,000 to provide energy support to schools.
“Every budget includes a mix of essential growth to fund services and reductions. Despite an overall increase in this year’s budget, we have identified more than £16m in reductions by delivering services more efficiently or at reduced cost.
We are continuing work to convert streetlights to more efficient LED lights and reducing staff travelling through digital ways of working, reducing costs and cutting the council's carbon footprint.
“However, the Council Tax increase was needed to balance our budget and put us on a sound footing for the coming financial year. We have tried to limit the impact on the people of Powys by keeping the increase below inflation as everyone is feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis.”